Even before he took home a Tony Award for best actor in a featured role in a musical, Matt Doyle was basking in the glow of his groundbreaking performance in "Company."
"Company" is a 1970 musical by the late Stephen Sondheim, and while it typically tells the story of Bobby, a male character, the recently opened and critically acclaimed current revival changes the lead character to Bobbi, a woman. Doyle also plays a gender-swapped character: Originally, the role is Amy, a woman in a heterosexual relationship, but now, Doyle plays Jamie, who is in a relationship with another man.
"I've just been so, so proud of what we've been able to accomplish in the show," Doyle, who is gay, told TODAY on the red carpet before the Tony Awards. "Some people might say 'Oh, it's not that big of a deal to have a gay character in a Broadway show,' but it is a massive deal still, and it also was a really, really incredible thing, especially to put it into a show where there never was a gay character."
"The last time 'Company' was revived (on Broadway) in 2006, (gay marriage) wasn't legal," Doyle continued.
"Company" received a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding Broadway production. The GLAAD Media Awards recognize "fair, accurate and inclusive representation of LGBTQ people and issues."
When presented with the award on May 18, 2022, Doyle accepted the honor on behalf of the show's entire cast and crew.
"To be recognized for that and to just be representing my community and be playing a role that I feel so deeply attached to, and have people celebrate that, it's been incredible and so special," Doyle said.
At the Tonys, "Company" took home several awards, including for best actress in a featured role in a musical (Patti LuPone), best direction of a musical (Marianne Elliott), best scenic design of a musical (Bunny Christie) and best revival of a musical.
In the show, Doyle tears through an energetic, constantly building performance of "Not Getting Married Today," an emotional but comedic moment where Jamie succumbs to fear about wedding his boyfriend Paul. Doyle, who has been candid about his own anxiety, told TODAY that it was exciting to channel his own emotions and lived experience into the character.
"If you could have told the 13-year-old boy that was anxiety-ridden and terrified and had no idea what he was going to do with his life that one day he’d be able to just be himself and would be celebrated for that in this way, I never would have believed you," Doyle said. "If that helps someone else believe that, I am so, so grateful."
Doyle said that as attacks on the LGBTQ+ community increase — including a rise in legislation targeting transgender youth and a recent mass arrest at a Pride event in Idaho — it feels even more important to make sure stories like Jamie's are being told.
"We're taking so many steps back, every single day, in this country," Doyle said. "I'm very, very frightened with what's to come and what the Supreme Court is suggesting. I think now, more than ever, we have to be present, and we have to make people understand that we are all the same. We are all human. We all have the same anxieties, fears and wants. That's why we tell these stories."